I can remember how I felt about Windows 8 the first time I saw it, and while I was optimistic about the approach they've taken, it's always been like "this can't be right". Meeting two different UI paradigms and usage scenarios (content consumption and content creation) in one product like they did... this could never really work out, no matter how much they wanted it to.
Back with Windows Vista, they seriously started to componentize the Windows codebase, so why didn't they take on this approach and went down the "one-UI-fits-all" road? The Windows kernel could be a solid foundation for many kinds of devices, and it fact, it already is today as it powers phones, tablets, and PCs at the core level. But when it comes to the UI level, it creates a mess when you do the same thing because every input method, mouse/keyboard, touch, or speech, have their own underlying paradigm, and mixing them up is never a good idea as you never get a result that feels really consistent. Using the immersive UI in Windows 8/8.1 with a mouse and keyboard feels unnatural. Period. Unnatural because actions like a simple right-click suddenly gives you an unexpected result: Instead of popping up a context-menu, like it's been for the past 20+ years, a hidden bar at the bottom appears, which might be not as easy to reach as the items of a context menu depending on where the pointer is currently located. Scrolling the mouse wheel suddenly triggers a horizontal rather than a vertical movement. This wouldn't be so bad if being back on the desktop, you wouldn't have to deal with everything working different from that. If you look at it this way, getting context-menus on the Start screen when using a mouse appears to be a good idea, if only it wasn't for the fact that they now put the "old way" on top of the "new way", instead of the other way round. It can't be right, just like trying to change how mouse/keyboard input worked for the past two decades.
What I'd expect from a Windows 9 release: Separate the touch UI and Store application model from the desktop UI and applications. This would mean to strip out the immersive shell and Store apps from core Windows and make it the only UI/app model on mobile devices (no more desktop), while on the other hand the desktop UI and applications (maybe a new app model to replace Win32 there, based on the Store but less restrictive and extensible?) become exclusive to traditional desktop/notepbook PCs. What would we get? A clean separation of a consumer and productivity system. It's the only reasonable way to go as meeting both creates just the mess that we got today.
"so why didn't they take on this approach and went down the "one-UI-fits-all" road?"
Because the main focus with Windows 8 was not to improve Windows as we knew it, but for Microsoft to leverage the user base it had build on the desktop in a last ditch attempt at gaining relevance in the mobile phone and tablet OS markets.
Metro was the future. Windows was reduced to a delivery mechanism. And users reacted to it with everything from adoring love to anaphylaxis.
Omg Paul I couldn't agree more. I love windows to death but I wish Microsoft would focus on their own innovations instead of trying to please everyone. It Is a reason why these mobile systems r successful. Its because they follow their own paths. Two systems is ok as long as they talk to each other just look at android n google chrome is. Maybe the metro environment should be on tablets and phones while the regular desktops should remain with a hint of metro thrown in like what apple did with mac os x with ios
Conceptually, the "project" of W8 still makes a lot of sense to me, even from a productivity focused standpoint. The grand design seemed to be to add a large new feature set (in effect a complete OS) to W7 to make it both possible and enjoyable to take your PC with you on the road.
So what went wrong? Personally, I have a lot of difficulty answering that question. The Metro side was clearly only half-baked, but that was to be expected for a brand new mobile OS, and (I would have thought) wouldn't have created all that much user blow-back, since everyone got an improved W7 with their OS.
What to do, with the benefit of hindsight? Again, I think the concept is both sound and desirable. I would agree, however, that the approach MS is *now* taking to "fixing" W8 is wrong-headed; i.e. just keep throwing in more features, whether or not they are consistent with the design concept, until people shut up. This is likely to only make things worse.
Personally, I thought they could have gone a LOT farther, even from the beginning, of having the desktop functionally the same as W7, but mimicking the design language of Metro much more. People can deal with changes in graphic design, as long as everything works more or less the same (note the evolution of Office). This might have made Metro seem less alien, and the whole OS more acceptable. I know MS thought they needed to at least force users to interact with the Metro environment in a limited way, hence booting to Metro. The fear for MS was that Metro would land in the market with a dull thud. I'm not sure MS was giving consumers enough credit in this regard. Regrettably, we'll never know whether that's true or not.
This article suggest that the only solution for MS is to go back to a clean whiteboard. I sure hope that's not what is done. Complaints seem to center around what happens when you power up the OS when you're starting from a desktop PC or a tablet. I genuinely think there is a simple and elegant solution there somewhere, and that would solve a lot of the OS's problems.
I agree with a lot of what you wrote. I think that Windows 8 suffered from almost exactly what Windows Phone 7 did. It was a false start. The difference is that Windows Phone 8 was exactly the right way to go about it and clearly has the promise of give me the ubiquitous, unified access I've been craving for as long as I can remember. Xbox One is in the very same boat, by the way. My wife and I have no problem navigating Xbox One since our phones and our laptops and our PCs all use the same Metro interface. But, while Windows Phone is homogenous in consistency and execution, Windows 8 and Xbox One are not. A LOT of pieces are missing. Windows 8.1 brought a lot of the desktop functions to Metro, negating my need to use the desktop side for 90% of things. But I resent every time I still have to use the desktop for anything. SkyDrive is ALMOST the right replacement for File Explorer...but not quite. Doing things like drive mappings (yes, there are legacy situations that still require that quaint, tired process). But that's the sort of functionality that Microsoft should be focusing on. Examine every EXCUSE someone has for staying on the desktop and develop a way that's just as easy NOT to stay on the desktop. I'm also convinced it will help once the Metro version of Office comes out. I love using the OneNote app. I expect the rest of Office to function similarly.
Metro is not as bad as you make it sound.
But they do need a little notification bar on the top, that shows the time and battery life. Not just an image of they remaining battery, a percentage.
Bring it back to the old way of closing apps. Just swipe down. Not swipe down and hold.
Or even, have two versions. The desktop, which won't have metro.
And RT, which is metro, and no desktop. But IE sucks on metro. So they would have to make IE a lot better.
"Bring it back to the old way of closing apps. Just swipe down. Not swipe down and hold."
You can still just swipe down and forget about the app. It will freeze/close/tombstone itself. You people have to stop worrying about that.
The main issue with Windows 8 is the same as with Windows Vista - the media have decided that it is a disaster, and a disaster it is! Apple (and to a certain extent Google) basically controls the media and can dictate which products are accepted and which are not. Most people who think Windows 8 is bad haven't actually tried it. It’s not perfect, either, but it is a lot better than its reputation.
An additional problem is of course the inability of a certain group of Windows users to switch on their brain for two seconds. We don't progress by keeping things the same. Windows needs to progress and do that, it needs to change. The future is very much consumer-oriented, not enterprise-oriented and Windows 8 was a correct first step.
Paul, I agree that what's currently happening is a panic reaction that lacks any strategic vision. Sinofsky was right about one thing: Customer feedback should generally be ignored - at least when it comes to big things. That was what Steve Jobs said - no focus group would ever have come up with the iPhone. And he was right. A lot of Windows users get a panic attack when the slightest thing is changed – these are not the people to listen to! Yet, that is what Microsoft is doing. These people are not the future, they are stuck in the past and should be ignored, as they deserve to be. They are the people still using XP.
What I don’t agree with is calling Windows 8 a disaster. It may be a marketing disaster, yes, but the product itself is very good. Not perfect, sure, but very good. Windows continues to lack a sense of coherent design, but Metro was a promising start of a coherent design. That coherence is vanishing in Update 1 – and that is the true disaster!
Am I to understand from your assertion, that Microsoft previously controlled the media to earn Windows 7 almost unanimous praise?
Always easy to blame "the competition" and "the media", but unless you've already settled on a secret plan to kill the former and pay off the latter, listening to user complaints and improving your product might just be more promising steps toward success.
I think win8 was/is a disaster. I have used it since the CP. In fact if they stopped there, win8 would have been a home run. RP was worse, and RTM just blew chunks. Sorry. I am absolutely disgusted with Metro. What should have happened was take all the under the covers improvements in Windows 8 and kept the windows 7 Aero gui... yes i said it. I hate Metro so bad, I have hacked it out of my windows 8 box.
It is comments like this that infuriate me. I have no issues with changes and new guis. I ran linux with 5 or 6 different desktops. I run Mavericks. I run Android with a non stock launcher. I like it my way. And I hate the money grab for APP STORES. I have well over $25k in software and $20k worth of pc hardware. I am the type that windows needs to be catering to. I am the one that whispers in my CIO's ear about what to buy.
I bristle whent i hear "Most people who think Windows 8 is bad haven't actually tried it" Well, I have been using it since Feb of 2012. I think i have the right to say what i like and dont like.
Unless MS gets it together, my next system will be a hackintosh or linux box. Gaming is no longer exclusive to windows. After MS decided to abandon WHS and trying real hard to abandon MCE, I am on the cusp of leaving windows for good. We were told to pound sand during the beta. We are the ones who made MS who they are. And with Windows8.x, we have been told that we are too old and refuse to change. Sorry, but I want my own customization. I want the OS to get out of my way. Let me work and play my way. Or I will find an OS that will let me.
Windows 8 is a disaster because it is not what people want, not because the media says it's a disaster. The average user doesn't learn about Windows 8 from the media, the first time they find out about it is when they buy a new computer with Windows 8 installed and their reaction is "What the hell is this crap!".
The reason that Windows 8 is not selling well is because most people don't like it. It doesn't matter if the reason they don't like it is because they are stupid or lazy or scared of change or because "The Apple controlled media" tells them they don't like it. The fact remains, they DON'T like it, and if Microsoft changes Windows 8 into something people DO like, then more people will use it.
First of all, let me congratulate you on the 180 you've done since the days of praising Microsoft for trying to move away from the sinking ship that is the "productivity" desktop. It shows you, unlike a lot of the nay-Sayers and nostalgic windows 7 users, do realize that focusing on productivity is meaningless when Linux and OSX present no threat to windows, therefore it is meaningless to try to improve it's desktop/laptop appeal.
You correctly saw that the bring your own device, would be what threatens the productivity forte, and a few years later, we can see you were right Paul. You were always right. Ipads and androids are replacing full pcs because while MSFT concentrates on productivity without expanding into the consumer space, consumers realize they just can't rely on Microsoft to keep up with the user that wants to both work and play on the same device. The number of ipads on keyboard stands, which you imply are "Franken-devices" (and let's face it, iOS, or android desktop launchers, are even more ridiculous than windows 8 true desktop), kind of tells me consumers are quite ok with the notion of 1 device for work and play.
So again, let me congratulate you for being 100% right... which makes your 180 puzzling because basically you're validating the IBM strategy: focus on what you do can still do ok, and ignore the changing times. It's worked for every company that ride it before right? (ok, end sarcasm).
Paul, you know times are changing, you know Microsoft Windows desktop and productivity world is doomed. You know productivity without offering consumers a reason to buy into the ecosystem is exactly what IBM did and what happened? Windows, the mocked "consumer" OS became productive, and so will android and so will iOS. I guess then it will be the time to panic?
Well you can always then do another 180 and say: I told you so Microsoft, focusing on productivity while ignoring the consumer was a mistake. And if you reference your 2012 articles you'd be right.
I wonder, what if windows 8.1.1 and 9 bring upgrades along in large numbers, and the 150K store apps that don't exist on desktop now being usable on the desktop starts to appeal to users, who both work and play...., will you reference this article? Maybe tell the windows team that they were right?
As iOS and android further transform into franken-OSes by trying to beat windows at the enterprise, time will tell if retreating to the corners of the server room, and betting people will buy a desktop will pay off. However, the trends suggest people don't care about productivity if it doesn't also do mobile, and businesses already have windows 7 to get them by as companies, like google and apple, which are tripping each other to move into "Franken" devices and cut out windows arrive.
Not sure I agree 100%. My feeling is go for broke and everything eventually becomes Metro, with the desktop only a playground for legacy applications. I thought this was the original vision.
Honestly, I have been running Windows 8 since the very first previews, updating to the Developers' Preview and then buying the first low-price Windows 8 updates. My daily use machine is a non-touch laptop and I get by just fine, thank you. I don't need the close button and top menu bar. I have become quite comfortable with dragging Metro apps to close or using the lower edge to refresh to reset the app in the flip. The simple fact is my next PC will have to be touch enabled. I refuse to buy anything else when I do upgrade because that IS what we be coming. It is blind to assume that Apple is not furiously working on making their Mac OS touch enabled as well.
And as far as two operation systems for Enterprise and consumers, it is already reality. Most, if not all companies transitioning from XP in the coming weeks will be upgrading to Windows 7, not Windows 8. Which is fine.
My opinion of the people who have griped the loudest about how horrible Windows 8.x is for non-touch devices - the majority are lazy. I have absolutely no trouble whatsoever navigating between Metro and Desktop. None. I have finally become more comfortable with the snap feature and work quite well between IE on Metro and on the desktop. Honestly, I am waiting for Office to make the final leap to Metro to unify that system.
"My opinion of the people who have griped the loudest about how horrible Windows 8.x is for non-touch devices - the majority are lazy. I have absolutely no trouble whatsoever navigating between Metro and Desktop. None. I have finally become more comfortable with the snap feature and work quite well between IE on Metro and on the desktop. "
Good for you. Unfortunately for Microsoft, almost no one in the enterprise and SMB world feel the same way. Which is why almost ALL biz class PCs from Dell, HP, Lenovo, Panasonic come with W7 Pro x64 by default, with many models not even offering a W8 option at all. In fact, Dell and HP are now offering many W7-only models to the consumer market as well. Apparently almost no one actually WANTED to buy a W8 PC and the OEMs decided it was much more important to to sell things their customers actually wanted to buy and actually continue to remain int business instead of continuing to drink train car loads of Microsoft W8 Koo-Aid.
I have been saying this for a while: MS should open up the UI for the dev community with sets of APIs so UX designers can build UIs with the set of APIs.
And, These UIs can be either install locally, or be shared via a managed UI store much like the current Windows Marketplace, where the submitted UIs go under screenning for basic design guideline, compitibility and security.
These UIs should not be required to be the "one for all (devices)" type, and multiple UIs can be used at one time, and even switch automatically.(This means that there are sets of APIs that allow UI switch using device data. i.e. touch screen, cpu type(desktop/mobile),motion sensor, etc.)
The goal for this is that at the end, individual users can manage their own experiance accordingly. (And, you bet MS can make some money in the process.)
The current design of win8.1.1 UI should be kept as referrence/defult UI for basic guidle line and installation propose.
And for organization users, they can set up group policy that lock the UI for end users and/or set specific app/software that can only run of perticular UI. (The UI can be downloaded and specific requirements can be set for the UI. E.g. the specific interface (UI with a set of specific apps can only run under it) can be only connected to one perticular intranet via LAN connection only when running. So, even the end client got stolen, the interface will not run as system fall the meet the criteria.)
As you can see this type of UI/interface management is not that different from what MS has been doing on WP8s with Kids and Enterprise Corners. (with added security for various verifications.)
As Windows move towards the so call "liberary os" (Medori project), the UI store and interface management policy can really ease the transition. (say MS decide to encroperate x86 version of Android with Windows, some custom UIs can be designed so both Android and WinRT (Modern) apps can be access on one overlay screen/manual not that much different from the current Start Screen/ Start 8 start manual/ Rainmeter type translucent icons on Desktop depend on designer's concept).
To add to the discussion:
The set of design guidelines should encroperate a whole set of "minimum methods", which are the bare minimal method to use an UI that is design for X use.
E.g. For closing app, the minimal method should be click icon "x" to close the app, so for a touch enhanced UI, the UI must at least use "x" icon to close any app it setup to encroperate, but the designer can also enable the pull down and close method to close apps/programs that is full screen.
This "minimum methods" will ensure the basic operating priciple is unified across all UIs.
So users with bare minimal experiance on windows can navigate all the costume UIs can with ease, even it might not be optimum.
In the other hand the "minimum methods" also give guide line for how one perticular operation is done. (i.e. hotkey for select all will always be ctrl+a, and press+hold on touch will always bring up manual).
It's sad that Windows 8 has come to this when there are many possible ways to make a single OS work on all devices. However it seems that with the most recent updates Microsoft is trying to please corporates more than consumers. Whether this is a good direction is something that can be argued but if they continue that way then it's perhaps best that they split Windows 8 back into two seperate OSs one for desktop and one for touch until they can get a unified version of Windows that can be optimised to each experience based on device type. Surely they can do that one day!
Your comment calls to mind that there is one reason for W8's poor uptake in the corporate environment that is both well-considered and obvious. The new UI (really new OS) elements that MS has added to W8 are fundamentally (at least for now) consumer-oriented. That is, few people do work on a tablet, thus programs for tablet OS's have skewed towards games and other forms of entertainment.
What company officer responsible for deploying a new PC OS to his workforce wouldn't be somewhat wary of one that, by default, had his employees greeted by a menu that is designed to be for fun, and confronted with a screen full of distractions from their actual job (HBO Go, Xbox games, weather, news, and various other entertainments and procrastination facilitating tools).
Yes, I suppose it could be locked down, but that goes against the whole purpose of the UI. A corporate manager, faced with the choice of deploying something that is designed to provide people with various fun tablet apps might just say: "eh, better stick with W7."
BYOD invalidates the strategy you're putting forth. While it's true that Windows' greatest success is the enterprise, a lot of people are still using it on the consumer side too. If MS were to alienate consumers, the workers that use this software would stop running it at home, and request their IT guys to validate their Macs or Chromebooks or whatever. At my workplace, we use Windows 7, while I use Windows 8.1 at home. While there is a difference between the two platforms, there is not nearly as much of a difference as there is between a Mac or Chromebook and a Windows device.
I think you're getting caught up in the over-analytical thinking that people tend to do when they see Surface vs. iPad numbers or WinPhone vs. Android + iOS numbers. People tend to think there's something flawed with the platform, and that's not necessarily true. WinPhone and Surface does not bring a familiar interface to smartphones and tablets, it brings a new one.
For many people, Android or iOS was the first platform they used with the smartphone or tablet. Just as Windows (XP or 95 or whatever) was the first platform they used on a traditional PC. They used Android or iOS for a few years, got used to it, got a bunch of apps, and fit their life around this new mobile experience of theirs. When MS final came around with mobile OS's, people were used to Android or iOS on a mobile device and Windows XP or 7 on a computer. For most people, those things were good enough. Windows 8 was different from their current situation on all three platforms and people need a really compelling reason to change the way they do things every day. While Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 are fantastic OS's in their own right, there was really nothing super compelling about them to bring someone away from the OS's that they were used to and that were "good enough." The fact is, Windows Phone 8 and Surface do not succeed only because Android and iOS was there first and was "good enough."
For those of us who were unsatisfied with Android or iOS, we did switch to Windows Phone or Surface. I felt that Android was in perpetual Beta and iOS was way too rigid. I feel like Windows 8.1 on the Surface is the perfect mobile platform because it gives me the power of Windows, the flexibility of a great file system, and the amount of customization that I desire to get things done. Not to mention syncing and the power of Office. I actually want Windows Phone to pull in more features from Windows RT rather than the other way around. I know I am the minority, but regardless, I think Windows Phone and Windows RT was never meant to defeat Android and iOS, but provide a third platform that can eventually become viable and fits a market that neither platform fully supported. There are so many people on this planet with so many different desires, and I don't think any platform should have >50% marketshare. Google doesn't even have that. Yes, Android is huge in marketshare, but 70% of Android handsets in China (the biggest Android market btw) do not even run Google Services. Android is overestimated in it's power, but it's as important as it is because it's flexible and caters to the desires of a large audience.
This is what I think Windows 8.1 Update 1 is going for. With this update, Windows will be able to cater itself to the hardware that it is run on in a way that has never been done. Microsoft is really trying to make Windows as flexible as possible so that the UI adapts the hardware and input devices and can be run on everything and everywhere. You may think of it as a Frankenstein's monster, but only if you look at it from a top down perspective. If you look at all forms of Windows, yeah it looks chaotic, but the user only experiences it on one device at a time. To try to design a single OS that will adapt to the hardware it is run on is admirable.
Just think of Android and iOS. Android on a laptop would be awful because it's designed for touch. Thus, why Google makes Chromebooks. iOS is waaayyy too limited to work on a Mac, thus why Apple keeps MacOS around (but tries to make the OS elements look similar). Even on tablets, these OS's have their advantages and disadvantages. What if you could have a single OS with a single library of apps, that adapts itself to work beautifully on a phone, a tablet, a touchscreen laptop, a desktop, a server. The UI elements would change based on the input devices, but the kernel, the APIs, etc., would all be similar if not the same. That would be beautiful, and this is what I feel Microsoft is trying to do. I think Windows 9 (Threshhold) will be the next step towards that, but we'll only know when they announce their "vision" at BUILD.
Sorry for the essay, but this is all just to say "chill out." The moment they go IBM is really just the moment they go Blackberry. Microsoft is in it for the long game, and I think we just need to give them some time. I'll be very interested to see what they say in April, because that conference could very well change my optimism about Microsoft, or reinforce it.
Oh Paul... you made me feel like if I was reading creepypasta :'(
Hmm.. The "Frankenstein" appereance of Windows now is just because it is actually in the middle of it's morphing, and it just can't escape looking like a hundred arms spaghetti monster if it is going to try hard to make an OS that is capable to work on a small touch device, a big touch device hybrid or a non-touch so called "traditional" productivity device, right? Right.
I look at Windows with the following analogy:
Imagine that the traditional, non-touch, productivity driven side of Windows resembles a traditional, 100+ years old town/city that is currently very populated and was mildly improved since it was founded. Now its normal that a lot of the old sewage, piping and the old structures' foundations are still in duty, upgrading them is costly (and those old items are mostly thrown away), takes time to do and is very hard (if not impossible) to do if there is people that do not want to move elsewhere because of money, they are afraid of change or they simply do not want that (those old sewages/pipes may still work "good enough" for them after all)... and maybe their reasons are valid for them...
So what can we do if we can't upgrade this big and old infrastructures??
One pretty simple answer is to just force those people out of their homes and start changing those old things, without caring for them or the value they bring as habitants (customers) that invest in that town/city.
Another answer (and the one Metro Windows gets in) is to build another city that has the current technology applied as a default, but they put it 150 miles apart (the number does not matter) from the other city (as the Metro design is also "miles apart" from the desktop).
So now you got a BIG old town/city and a small NEW place, and both seem so different from the other... So the old fellows claim it is unnecessary and dumb and a waste of money to have to START over and abandon the old but "good enough" place that they are already used to live since forever.
So MS starts bridging (updating) this two places by expanding the big old place a bit closer to the new one and hoping to get people interested in these new ideas.
Now, imagine that Metropia (the new place) was not designed to be as shocking and different as it is (not as touch optimized, better for the mouse)... The way I see it is that it would become "not that much of an improvement" for the old fellows (so they stay XP and 7 as much as possible) and "not different/interesting enough" for the not-that-productive trend setters (the ones that assimilate change faster and prefer the Android/iOS ways of simple and entertainment).
So yeah, the following could happen:
--Ye ol' Win town just overlaps Metropia (focuses productivity/less touch so then WP absorbs the Metro scraps)
--Metropia gets really appealing (and absorbs WP) and leaves Ye ol' Win town with little population so it can overlap it much later (everyone gets 8/8.1/8.1u1/9 for desktop/laptop/hybrid/tablet/phablet/smartphone)
--Or who knows, maybe both will have to coexist for some time and then become totally different/unmergeable (Win 9 for business with little touch at all as one product (desktop/laptop)and Win9MOD/Metro+Phone as the entertainment product (hybrid/tablet/phablet/smartphone)).
Wow, you might have actually read all my ranting! I thank you and congratulate you for that.
If you disagree with most/everything I posted then let's please try to avoid sarcasm and jokes if you reply ok? And if I confused you or you find that my Engrish sucks then I am very sorry, try reading again ;)
Let's not hate Windows for becoming different and/or scary... it is a tool with value and (I hope) it really isn't trying to make you look stupid or out of place with these changes.
I must be the only person in the world that likes windows 8, or at least what Windows 8 is trying to be. Windows 8 is mainly failing because of the poor execution and horrible PR/ marketing.
I own a Mac, iPad, and non-touch HP laptop running 8.1. One of my peeves is not being able to run any of the million great iPad apps on my Mac without stopping and pulling out the iPad. And make no mistake, these type of apps are where we are heading. Every day more new and powerful apps are produced. When was the last time you seen a list of great new desktop apps?
Windows 8 is not perfect, but the amount of hysteria and misinformation on the Internet is incredible. No wonder people are scared to try Windows 8. Basically the main complaints are over Metro interface itself, and the removal of the Start Menu.
The arguments about having Metro and the desktop are the same I heard 25 years ago when Windows first started. Then it was the DOS people proclaiming Windows was useless and a productivity waster. For them the command line and DOS prompt was all they needed. Windows was just pasted on DOS.
Every article you read about Metro says it is no good on non touch desktops because it is optimized for touch. This is so untrue. I have absolutely no problem with the Metro interface with any of the apps I use on my lap top. In fact I wager that I can navigate faster with my mouse than someone can with their finger. This is because the targets are so much larger. It just takes some practice to get used to.
And the Start menu was clearly due for an overhaul. Why is it that the so-called most advanced OS in the world, Mac OS, does not have a start menu. They launch from the dock and applications window. In windows you launch from the taskbar and All Apps screen. But from the internet you would think that it is totally impossible to launch a program effectively anymore in Windows 8.
I work on the desktop, but I love dropping down and using my Metro apps. I love the way they display content and how they fully utilize my wide screen monitor. I love the live tiles, and how with one glance, I can check the status of everything I am interested in. Why should that functionality be limited to a 8 or 10" tablet? The biggest problem though is lack of high quality apps.
Where Windows has failed though is not clearly separating the desktop from Metro. This update 1, I agree goes the wrong way and does not address more fundamental issues. Metro apps were never supposed to be run in sizable windows on the desktop, or look like a desktop app.
The biggest issue that nobody seems to address is fixing the All Apps screen. I would like Microsoft to somehow just show the executables instead of every support file that gets installed. It would be nice if they could be hidden and expanded when needed. This would reduce screen clutter and the amount of horizontal scrolling.
I really hope that Microsoft can fix these issues and make it seamless to move from Desktop to Metro without losing the functionality and strengths of either.
And the people said Amen. With a product as mature and dominate in its market when the computing market is changing so dramatically, it was kind of obvious that dramatic change had to come to Windows.
No matter how good, dramatic change is NEVER accepted at first. And then over time it becomes no big deal. That's how it works and has always worked. Windows simply can be a desktop centric OS anymore. Even those customers that Thurrott is saying Microsoft should focus on will not hang around forever simply to use an aging OS and UI with nothing new to offer. Doubling down on desktops and laptops when there is no growth there and that Microsoft dominates by light years is about the dumbest thing I've heard in a while
Microsoft used to say you should think about the Desktop as just another Metro app. Now it looks like they are abandoning that and making Metro apps runnable on the Desktop. I'm ok with that because Desktop users seemed to reject the previous notion. Is it messy? So if Windows has always been messy, then I suppose this is too. But who cares? Desktop users get to continue using the Desktop in the same old way, just like they want, even being able to run Metro apps as if they were Win32 apps. People who like Metro and use touchscreen devices don't lose anything, as they can continue to run Metro apps fullscreen and avoid the messiness that is the Windows Desktop. This all sounds great to me! You say you can't please everyone, but many of us use Windows for work and play. Business users and consumers aren't two distinct group of people. So at work I might want to run a Metro app on the Desktop while using Visual Studio. But when I'm at home I may want to run the same app fullscreen on my Surface. So I want Windows to please me when I'm at work AND when I'm at home, and it looks like Windows is headed in that direction. I don't care if critics think this is messy. It would be a lot messier to jump from Windows to Android to iOS depending on what I wanted to do. Windows is the only product that allows me to cleanly stay in the same ecosystem for all of my computing needs.
With the greatest respect, I think you’re being a bit harsh here. I know this is a huge & complex issue and Microsoft has made a mess of things, but I do see a strategy here. Microsoft wants its developers to move to Windows RT and away from Win32. This is a long term strategy and isn’t going to happen for years due to the work required by developers of existing desktop apps, but they are trying to lay down a migration path. As you know, one of the difficulties with Windows 8.x is that it still has a split personality. Each environment doesn’t really recognise the other and this confuses end users. For example, my partner could use Windows 7 on a desktop PC well, currently uses Windows 8.1 OK on his Surface RT (modern apps only) but when it comes to using windows 8.1 on his office PC and trying to mix Desktop and Modern apps, he just gets confused. I have seen loads of other people with the same issue. What should be most worrying for Microsoft is that most ordinary users don’t even realise that the store is there. Some people didn’t even know about the 8.1 upgrade because they had to go to the store to get it. They are still thinking in desktop terms. This is compounded by the fact you can’t see Modern apps from the desktop, which leaves them confused. Allowing the sort of input device detection & associated UI behaviour seems to me to be a graceful compromise. Add to that the ability for modern apps to run in a Window (yes I know, supposedly a Windows 9 feature) and I think they will have a pretty solid migration path. Windows RT is still lacking in comparison to Win32 for developers, but my opinion is that the silence from Microsoft is evidence that they have their heads down and are working towards unifying and improving the API’s for the entire ecosystem. Time is definitely a big issue, but the benefits for developers could be huge. I have always felt that snap mode for instance, was an attempt to address the dual interface issue. Full screen mode and snap mode have their obvious uses on the desktop/tablet, with the snap mode being an interesting UI for phones. A fully functional modern app with 2 UI’s. As rich in snap view as when running full screen. Unfortunately, because both the Windows and Windows Phone teams where separate, this was never coordinated, but if feels like this may have been the train of thought. Maybe combined engineering teams working together on metro 2.0 might address this. Windowed modern apps might also just be a feature to ease the migration. I’m assuming that although modern apps may be able to run in a window in future, a requirement for them to run full screen will still exist to ensure that the tablet experience still works well. The windowing option could then be removed in a future OS release when Microsoft feels sufficiently brave again and decides to remove Windows Explorer/Desktop for good. Microsoft got to where it was today by supporting legacy. Today, that is what has hurt it the most, but I think it’s still a strong advantage if then can make the old and the new get along a bit better for a bit longer.
Your point that Windows 8 is a disaster is correct, but why it was a disaster is much more interesting and shines a light on the current strategy. They tried to make too large a jump. Developers & the public didn’t want to jump. The penny has dropped and there now rushing to fix this. Note that nothing has changed in terms of long term strategy. WinRT is still where they want to push developers. The only questions are have developers lost patience and has time run out.
I would prefer two interfaces, the metro/desktop hybrid that is Windows 8 (with Metro-only for phones) for hybrid devices and a desktop-only Windows 9. You would not need to develop for two OS' because the work is already largely done on Windows 8, the only issue is refinement. So yes, take a page out of Apple's playbook. Their iOS iterations are just tacked on refinements (I say that as an owner of an iPod and iPad), like getting to settings easier, or improved notification center.
I purchased a surface pro just so I can have access to both consumption and productivity in one device. And don't give me the "everyone's got a smartphone spiel", if iPhone's and Google phones were the be-all-end-all for consumption devices, we wouldn't have Apple and Google tablets out there. I don't want to lug around multiple devices, surf the web or watch videos on a small screen; if Apple or Google released a hybrid device on par with the Surface Pro that I can use my productivity apps on, I'd jump ship too (if MS canned Metro, that is).
That leaves Windows 9/Desktop, which can be for enterprise and power users (gamers), and they can come out with those every 2-3 years as they do now.
I think if MS ceded the consumer space (to whatever degree), it would be leaving the door open for Google and Apple to one day further encroach upon MS client base; the difference then being those two companies would have other revenues to fall back on while MS would be fighting for its life.
This article has a lot of opinions but few arguments or fact. I in fact agree with most changes in Update 1. In particular, taskbar everywhere is great for productivity: I can finally use Win 8.1 as one operating system. Before, I had to look for running programs on the taskbar and modern apps on the left of the screen, which was simply bad.
What Microsoft needs is simply to declare that the separation between Modern apps and desk applications are starting to disappear.
I think MS is in the right track with W8.1u1.
We see desktop and start screen are become similar each other.
In Windows 9 we won't have this duality anymore because they are going to be unified.
What I suggested earlier is the way that Windows can be "fixed": Snap works like Windows 7 already, maximizing WinRT apps should make them full screen, make a mini "Start screen" into a Start menu, get rid of the overlap of PC Setting/Control Panel & Taskbar/App Switcher, keep the same WinRT background processing limitations to keep battery life in check, then Modern-ize the desktop to the design style, and everything just works.
Now, as far as differentiating platforms, I have a simple way to do it:
x86 is the superset of all others. All x86 platforms should perform the same regardless of form factor because some tablet users do actually dock their system to a display but still use touch.
ARM systems should be functionally the same except that they would lack Win32 support.
Small screen systems should run the same version as the above, but if the only connected screen is ~5" or less, it should limit apps to full screen only. They should already be binary compatible with ARM systems of larger screen sizes anyway (but presently aren't). Here's a change though: if there is a connected screen that supports a high resolution and is a given minimum size, it should allow windowed apps on a desktop. This would allow for dockable phones that are not functionally different than tablets. If x86 phones come along, they should support a full x86 Win32 too (but only if the screen size restrictions are met).
Server versions would basically just be the same as they are now (but I WANT AMD to push Microsoft to get ARM versions of it out, since AMD's new chips are set to make a big difference in datacenters and cloud computing).
Eventually, Win32 could be pulled from client versions, and then Windows would become completely platform-agnostic.
I do agree that temporarialy we are getting some mixed designed mixed (taskbar over metroapps, for example).
But it is the right direction.
Windows 9 is only about have a merged "unified desktop+startscreen front end interface" with lots of diferente ways to Interact with.
It doesn't matter how you interact (mouse+keyboard or touch) with the unified visual interface (the fusion of desktop with start screen), the only thing that matter is that you have a unified visual interface to the user.
The developer just do one code that will run everywhere (smartphones, tablets and PC).
That is exactly the perfect right solution for Windows.
That is going to change the game.
What the heck is happening to Paul Thurrott?
For over a year you've been proselytizing Metro and confidently predicting that Microsoft would someday dump the desktop (despite any real evidence for this) while writing books to help new users learn Windows 8 and Windows Phone.
Now, suddenly, Microsoft has no hope of succeeding in touch, since users will just prefer their "simpler Android and iOS devices"?
And haven't you recently called Windows 8 a "Frankenstein monster" because of it's 2-in-1 nature? And yet, now that Microsoft is attempting to better integrate Metro with the desktop so that mouse and keyboard users can find reasons to use it, Windows is suddenly doomed? I don't get it.
You can't roll back the clock. It sounds like what you are suggesting is to just pull the plug on touch altogether and go back to "Windows NT". That might make Windows IT Pro readers happy, but that's an insane strategy for evolving Windows for the future.
Is putting a few desktop interactions in Metro (which are only really visible when using a mouse and keyboard) really that earth shaking a compromise to you? You know as well as I do that Microsoft has got to find a way to make Metro apps more relevant to desktop users, so that the Store has some scale.
I just don't understand the rant.
Screw Sinofsky and Ballmer for trying to cram their money grubbing, consumer raping 'vision' down everyone's throat.
The solution that would have made everyone happy was extremely simple, put two start buttons in the lower left hand corner, old multi colored start button on the left, blue windows button to the right. Push the old start button brings up the Windows 7 interface, the blue start button to the right of it on the taskbar brings up the metro interface. Both buttons are always there on both screens. Desktop Windows 7 upgraders would have been happy with the new features ***REFRESH-RESET-RESTORE options***, tablet users happy with the Metro interface. I would have upgraded to Windows 8 just for those features. The kicker is most of those HAPPY W7 style Windows 8 users would have pushed that Blue start button occasionally and played around with the metro screen just to learn what it was about.
But that isn't happening if they aren't buying into WIndows 8 at all.
Their refusal to do an SP2 so that doing a clean install of W7 is an ever more arduous task is a total c&*# move.
Microsoft deserves to die.
" these people set the company and Windows back by years and have perhaps destroyed what was once the most successful software franchise of all time."
What if that was on purpose?
What if it was done on purpose to ensure their distant cousins over at Google had no competition to Android over the next 10 years or so?
Windows 8 could seriously remove Windows from mass population awareness and replace mass population awareness with 98% Android.
Any sociologists want to weigh in with expertise on how badly you have to anger a customer before they leave and go somewhere else to use something else?
You think Sinofsky is sitting in a darkened corner somewhere on a Surface Pro running a non upgraded Windows 8?
That made me laugh out loud. Thanks.
What are the chances he's actually using a Mac?
I've been a technician who has supported Windows / Mac users for over 10 years. I started listening to Windows Weekly in the summer of 2012 and What The.... shortly thereafter. I subscribe to your posts and Mary Jo's in my RSS reader. This is the most brilliant commentary I've ever read in the past 19 months on the state of Windows. I thought you nailed it. Microsoft: go with what works. Certainly combine Windows RT + Windows Phone. Keep extending the xbox to that platform. However, traditional Windows can be very profitable as a desktop + laptop OS, with minimal touch options -- or at least hidden as some of the comments have said. I had been a Mac user for almost 10 years.
Partly due to HP's campaign to re-market Windows 7, I went out and bought a current model ProBook G1 in late January. I am now a Mac to Windows convert. This gives me full control and creative flexibility whereas the Mac experience simply wasn't anymore. Granted these business-class systems were still being offered with 7 anyway -- but it was HP's push to talk about 7 that made me reconsider Win 7 as a conservative platform for stability. My foundation is solid, now I can go out and find really clever ways to use it. Mac hardware is growing increasingly more proprietary -- and as you said in the past Paul-- into a boutique brand. When I first became a Mac user in '04 - it was an enthusiast brand. Today, Apple is sealing up their computers and does not want the end user to tinker with them.
Update 1 changes things for "traditional" machines, metro for touch based devices should remain the same as it is in 8 and 8.1 ... I don't see what the big deal is
I agree with your points re W8, but from what I've seen the latest update is all about making the transition easier for users with 'traditional' hardware. As a result I'm considering upgrading my laptop to W8 for the first time.
The future of Windows for consumers is WP/RT - the direction toward that end hasn't changed as far as I can see.
Y'all need to chill. Windows (in whatever form) is not the best thing, nor is it the worst thing. Some things might improve with updates and some might evolve--meaning the route to improvement might sometimes go through a circuitous route. It is not a religion, it is not political...lighten up. In the end MS will be somewhere between wildly successful and out of business--the comments here will likely not have much of an impact on that. Something I have come to realize after many years of management (and marriage)-- there are often multiple right answers.
Wow... well some vitriol here ....
I do agree that the UI has fragmentation in its use and definitely needs a more unifying approach.
I think it really should just have had two skins
a touch centric and desktop essentially a full/windowed modes. (with simple toggle)
But to its credit the addition of the app store has simplified the use for many as finding simple little apps is no longer a worrysome decision for most people. Security and safe use of unknown sw was a huge benefit. For those that struggled with this I just say "check the app store".
I do get the points but there is still a lot that has improved for end users too.
basic system security
skydrive xbox etc
unified notifications -ok somewhat
single login for many things
I dont think its as doom and gloom as some feel but they do need to do something quick.
Well, Paul, it took time but you got there. Finally, we agree totally. Somehow, I do not believe that MS is likely to hear what you have to say, but it should. There is nothing wrong in producing a Windows for traditional desktops/laptops and an OS for tablets and phones. In fact, with programs such as Bluestacks and with internal development, the desktop/laptop Windows can embrace both Android and WinRT. But maybe this is just too much vision for MS. Win9 would be just another compromise! But hang on there, MS may get it right by Win10, when it would hardly matter any more.
Of course there is something wrong with producing 2 OSs. No one will buy the Tablet/Phone OS. If you havent noticed, WP is not selling like hotcakes, nor are the Tablets.
Paul is exactly right that there is no compelling reason to do so. Apple and Android have more complete options.
Going the route you suggests results in MS eventually turning into IBM, which may not be a bad thing.
Paul is right on many levels, but I'm not enamoured with any version of Windows newer than XP. I am begrudgingly using Windows 7, but I am still finding major bugs in this OS all these years later -- bugs that will never be fixed or addressed. Windows 8 is the new Vista, a huge gamble on a new GUI venture with even more bugs that won't be truly fixed or addressed until Windows 9, if there is anyone left willing to take that one for a test drive. Always with Microsoft, it is them telling users what they need and want, rather than providing a solid user-friendly OS that is relatively bug-free. I mean XP still has bugs too, but it remains the most stable OS out there. And yet, Microsoft is completely ready to throw over one-third of the world's computer users under the bus just two months from today. It's this smug attitude and apparent disregard for users that will kill Microsoft in the end. Rather than developing a whole new GUI every few years with a whole new rainforest full of bugs, you would think that incremental upgrades that add stability would be the goal. But it's not. Microsoft banks on the illusion that they can dictate the terms of OS obsolescence. Why else are there so many different versions of IE that you can't use on older OSes? Is is because they simply will not work? Or is it a planned move to force you to (CHA-CHING!) upgrade? Does this mean we will all get disgusted and buy Macs or Linux systems? No. But the market is ripe for any company willing to pick up the XP ball in the end-of-life red zone and walk it in for a huge touchdown! Novell was once just as smug and cocksure that NetWare would "be with us another 100 years". And their marketshare dropped fro 90% to 75% to 50 to 40 to ... NetWare, you ask? What the hell is that? All I am saying here is that in the current economy, it's doubtful that Microsoft can right the ship unless some serious changes take place under the new management. Can Windows get a share of the mobile marketplace? Will the Surface gain significant marketshare? Who cares? Microsoft needs to get back to basics, and decide to make a Windows OS that actually works! Good luck with that one.
Win 8 is about using monopolistic position in operating system to redefine how users interact with computers driven by politicians, mainstream media and big corporations. They need viewer focus to convey the message and it requires certain amount of time when people attention is entirely focused on the news or advertisement; otherwise it is not working. By now each of us developed ways to navigate news sites and learned how to avoid annoying and redundant content. Net effect is that millions spent on programming/advertising is aired/published on WWW and no one is listening. Each of us has our own niche on the net where we get news and exchange ideas. Something had to be done hence the idea of "immersive content" probably backed by psychological research. Media,Corporations and Politicians noted that people have access to too much of powerful technology that liberated them. They want to take it back. They do not like freedoms, whistle blowers and transparency. So do not expect that Microsoft will change their course.They will press with this seemingly silly operating system because any failure on consumer side will be compensated generously by government contracts and big corporate accounts. They know it will take time and they have both time and money (taxpayer money). Productivty? That's what they are afraid of because it may mean competition. The goal is to have 95% of media consumers using sealed tablets with limited computing power and 5% of content producers, programmers, designers etc. equipped with expensive hardware often beyond reach for average consumer. Any potential challenger will have no chance of successfully competing against outsourced army of cheap programmers from India, Pakistan,China etc. In order to increase monopolistic control data and more powerful computing will be centralized and the cloud is part of this strategy. New Win 8 interface is mostly targeting future market expansion in Asia and local consumer distaste does not matter in this case. Widows was operating system for all different hardware configurations which was quite an achievement. Microsoft was taking the blame for blue screens caused by hardware issues. Now in calculated reversal they will also aim at cheaper and more convenient Apple alternative to control both hardware and software. Microsoft is too big too care and they have to follow directives from power centers because money is flowing directly from there. Of course they have "competition" from Google, Apple etc. but this is more like good cop bad cop strategy so everyone has a choice.
Microsoft needs better designers. The next update, meaning Windows 9, will have the most difficult task of all... unify the desktop and Metro and put to rest the Frankenstein monster. They have one year to do it. Its like the movie "Saw" where no one really wins. It was always their fault. Either they fix it as the Grand plan we assume they always had, or fail as we know they will. I prefer that they mitigate the risk. Different SKUs for different consumers; however, whatever the user decides, all features use the same interface whether touch or keyboard\mouse.
I completely understand the Windows 8 play. Microsoft needed to get into mobile and they figured the quickest way was by foisting a mobile os onto its desktop users. I don't necessarily blame them, I believe losing in mobile could present an existential threat to Microsoft. The web has leveled the playing field when it comes to the client, but native applications differentiates a platform.
I happen to believe that native development still matters, and there are certain problems and experiences that only native applications can handle. When is the last time a web application created any sense of awe, or had a wow factor? It's the so called 'killer app' that draws people to a platform. Currently almost all the efforts and successes towards this are on mobile devices, and I would argue on the iPad in particular. The one that comes to mind to me is 'Paper', not the Facebook app, but the app from the former Microsofties behind the Courier tablet.
I think for many developers who seek an audience the writing is on the wall. Microsoft was very late to respond with competitive products in the mobile space. There is more momentum and developer mindshare moving to Microsoft's biggest competitors. The flywheel is spinning, better apps bring more users. More users attract more developers. More developers create better apps.
I'm going to be more blunt about this, probably because I'm not feeling that great.
Windows doesn't have a prayer in the consumer space. Microsoft doesn't have a prayer in consumer software. There is an everlasting stigma about the company. Whether it's "uncool" or in nerd circles "buggy and insecure". Microsoftians have their head firmly planted in their behind if they think somehow people in large numbers ever enjoyed using Windows software. You can thank HP/Dell for all the bundled games/adware/antivirus trials that left such a great impression.
People have been itching to ditch Windows since they found out that Android and iOS does the five things they need to do perfectly fine. And it's the sole reason why Chromebooks haven't evaporated into the netherworld. Linux was complicated and Macs were expensive, but now things easy and cheap. Microsoft can't fix this problem because their entire image of who they are is the problem. It would take a miracle and a force of God to overturn the company's fortunes from a consumer standpoint. Windows 9 could be totally fine, I don't think it changes much.
If you really believed what you are writing Paul, you'd switch to a job that didn't rely in you providing commentary about a company you sincerely don't believe has a future. Why spend time commentating on a sinking ship when you could be out providing insight into where you believe the future is:Android and iOS
Paul, please list facts, not just opinions of why the new Windows is ugly. Most new UI features only work and show during a mouse& keyboard operation. So Tablet user won't notice the difference while mouse use will find it more convenient.
I think a fundamental mistake perhaps might have been believing that the Desktop was going away. Instead what I think is really happening is that the desktop is evolving form factor (we still require sedentary workstations plugged into the mains).
Realising that the desktop is still going to be here and that people still have legacy non-touch systems may have changed the initial architecture.
Win32 is basically where it is at on the desktop, Modern UI realistically should have been just a shell when on this platform with its API calling back into Win32 perhaps as Win32-Extended. On tablets and other such devices Modern UI would have filled in its own API since it is probably logical for Win32 not to exist on these types of platform.
OS/2 with its Workplace Shell and Presentation Manager integration reminds me of a similar architecture.
As a developer - many of the features of Win32 were put there because there was a reason to have them - it would be difficult to remove features that still provide much of a modern developers toolkit.
I normally rate your analysis, but on this occasion I couldn't disagree with you more. You clearly don't work mobile. Adding a mobile interface and layer to Windows has transformed my productivity in the last 6months since Win 8.1. I'm using a Dell VP8 mainly. Probably not my optimal device, agreed, but finally Windows is offering no compromise computing.
How can adding metro be a backwards step?
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